Wednesday, 7 September 2011

AAR - Meeting Engagement at Zysbirkova

 This is a brief After Action Report on a recent World War II Eastern Front game.

We were using Kampfgruppe Normandy as the basis of the rules (what else?) - with my adaptations and special rules for both the German and Russian sides. The game was a small platoon-sized action at 300 points per side. The scenario was the ‘Highway to Hell’ from the KGN rulebook, with a road running up the centre of the table, passing through a village (the mythical Zysbirkova - with a church and brick factory building) halfway across. Surrounding the village where various woods and crop fields.

The Russian Tank Corps Battle Group consisted of:
Battle Group HQ in Gaz jeep
1 Supply Truck
Infantry Platoon (deploying as tank riders)
57mm Zis2 AT gun and truck tow
2 T-34 squadrons, both of 3 x T34s
2 lend-lease M2 Grants
Forward Artillery Observer in a Jeep
2 x BM-13 rocket launchers

The German Infantry Division Battle Group consisted of:
Battle Group HQ in Kubelwagon
1 Supply Truck
1 Sniper
1 Infantry Platoon on foot or tank riding
88mm gun
1 Ferdinand (eek!)
STuG squadron of 3 x STuG IIIs
120mm mortar team

The Battle
With only a single recce unit to place (in Ambush) the German sniper climbed into the church bell tower and was placed on covering fire. From his lofty perch he would harass the Russian Zis2 anti-tank gun crew with suppressing fire for most of the game.

First to arrived on the scene was the Russian AT gun, forward observer and a single T34. The AT gun set-up covering the length of the main road, whilst under sniper fire, as the FAO moved into position to call Katyusha fire on to the village from the right.

The Germans responded, moving STuG riding infantry up the road as the others followed behind. The lead STuG instantly took the first of about 4 glancing hits from the Zis2 throughout the game, becoming suppressed but lucky to survive (as it continued to).

The Russian plan involved an initial attack on the left by three T-34s and mounted infantry, seeking to bypass the village and to capture the church objective. Meanwhile a flanking force of two more T-34s, plus the deployed one, and more mounted infantry squads arrived from the right, with the aim of quickly enveloping the village from the other side, which would also be under fire from the Katyushas, Zis 2 and both the loitering lend lease Grants’ 75mm howitzers.

The Russians raced forwards on the left only to meet two deploying STuGs head on, and loose the long range duel as one after the other all three T-34s exploded. In the centre the Zis2 AT gun duelled with the other StuG, and the Grants even managed to suppress the Ferdinand with HE fire as it arrived (slowly) on the scene. By now the first infantry squads were engaged house to house as MG34s and DPs blazed from windows and doorways.

The Russian FAO found himself the subject of repeated suppressing fire from the distant 8 and, hugging cover, was thus unable to call his artillery strikes.

The right flanking T34s at last arrived and raced forwards, only to encounter lethal fire from the 88 themselves. One, two and then three T34s where hit and destroyed in successive turns - ouch! This accurate anti-tank fire at least freed the FAO to unleash his Katyusha battery, with a devastating strike that smashed into the factory building and wiped out the German infantry squad within.

Still, this was but a small victory, as the Ferdinand became active again, hitting and destroying a Grant at long range, leaving the entire Russian attack in tatters. They had lost 7 tanks, the Germans had lost 0 (I counted them twice). The Russians withdrew, heavily defeated, leaving the village firmly in German hands. 

The suppressed STuG on the main road in the village, behind the mighty Ferdinand approaches! Note the German infantry occupying the large factory building, before the ‘better-late-than-never’ Katyusha strike wiped them out.

The Russian first attack on the left looses its second T-34 to STuG fire.

The flanking attack on the right sweeps past the factory, infantry dismounting. Note the imperilled German supply truck on the main road before it made a pell-mell dash up the road into the village. This shot was taken just before the 88 opened up to devastating effect.

STuGs in defensive positions behind the church, supporting a deployed machine gun team.

The beast unleashed! The Ferdinand moves into the centre of the village. 

The German 88 makes mince-meat of the three right flanking T-34s across a cornfield. Add three new kill-rings!

Just checking a rule! Suffice to say the Grant is very dead after being hit by the Ferdinand.

The game did throw up some debating points. One was the (feeble) power of the T-34s, loosing all 6 for no gain. They seemed underpowered and very vulnerable to those long German guns. The German player did report a feeling of being threatened to be swamped by them as they all boldly pushed forwards, but once engaged my standard tanks got massacred. I’ll be taking a hard look at the T-34’s profile.

Generally, the Russian anti-tank fire struggled to hit and then to penetrate. The Zis 2 is about as good as it gets, but it glanced off a STuG 4 times, mainly due to some very unlucky dice rolling. The 76.2mm guns on the tanks felt like pop-guns!

Note: Having some camera problems too, can’t seem to get the thing to focus as I wish. It has now been replaced, and hopefully the new one will provide less blurred pics.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What changes are you considering for the T-34?

    The 'swarm' factor of the Russkies is very disconcerting... Its not nice to see them all come steaming forward!